Infinitive as Apparent Subject

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234. In the Impersonal uses the infinitive appears to stand as Subject to the Verb; ἀργαλέον ἐστὶ θέσθαιππ πmαάίπg is 2aτd ; οὐ μὲν γάρ τι κακὸν βασι- λευέμεν to e a δίμng i ποί a ὑad tἄiππg. Γhis construction how- ever is not consistent ςwith the original character of the nfinitive. It is plain that ἔστιν εὕδειν can never have meant ' sleeping lbs, but ' there is (room 8xc.) for sleeping : and so ἀργαλέον ἐστὶ θέσθαι is originally, and in Homer, it(tᾶecαπe, πtate ῃʼ tᾖingε, ἅc.) la ἄard in υiew ῃbwaέiπρ, br is only in later Greek that we have the form ἀργαλέον ἐστὶ τὸ θέσθαι, in which θέσθαι is an indeclinable Neuter Noun.

The process by which the nfinitive, from being a mere word ob ρuitatiοn, comes to be in sense the Subject or Object of the principal Clause, can be traced in sentences of various forms.

  1. With a personal Subject.
    Il. 5.750 τῆς ἐπιτέτραπται μέγας οὐρανὸς Οὔλυμπός τε ἠμὲν ἀνακλῖναι πυκινὸν νέφος ἠδʼ ἐπιθεῖναι

    the meaning to them is entrusted the opening and shutting of the thick cloud of heaven,' is expressed by saying ' to them heaven is entrusted for opening and shutting the cloud.'

    Il. 1.107 αἰεί τοι τὰ κάκʼ ἐστὶ φίλα φρεσὶ μαντεύεσθαι.
    4- 345 ἔνθα φίλʼ ὀπταλέα κρέα ἔδμεναι.

    Meaning you love to prophesy evils (to eat τοast lest, ὅc.).

  2. The impersonal form (ἀργαλέον ἐστί) only differs from the other in the vagueness of the Subject, which makes it easier for the Ihnfinitive to become the Subect in sense, while it is still grammatically a vwοrd limiting the vague unexpressed Subject.

    The use of a Neuter Pronoun as Subject (e.ῃ. τό γε καλὸν ἀκουέμεν tie tiiπ9 is gοοd, to tiaten) may be regarded as a link betςween the personal and impersonal forms of expression : cp. ἦ 161 (ποte), also ἦ 258.

  3. Similarly an infinitive following the object of a Verb may become the logical object.
    Il. 4.247 ἦ μένετε Γρῶας σχεδὸν ἐλθέμεν ; σdο γε μwait for re οαππς for tier cορiπg on f i. e. for the coming on of the Trojans.
    14.342 Hρη, μήτε θεῶν τό γε δείδιθι μήτε τινʼ ἀνδρῶν ὄψεσθαι do ποί fear aπγ οe ῃʼ gοdς οτ ῃʼ πuen for tieir ὁeiung aοut to see, i.e. that any one will see: cp. Od. 22.30, 40.

    Α further development of this use leads, as we shall see, to the 'Accusative with the Infinitive.'

  4. Again, the nfinitive sometimes takes the place of a vague uπe2ρτessed Ooiect. Thus οἶδε νοῆσαι means ἑnοκwς (enοnρ) to 2eτcefνe: the foul construction being such as ςwe have in D. 2.213 ὅς ῥʼ ἔπεα φρεσὶν ἧσιν ἄκοσμά τε πολλά τε ᾖδει Il. Il. ἐριζέμεναι κὰο ἑπew (ad a store ηff) μwοrdς μwἄereμwith to κwτangίe. So too δίδωμι ςwith an nfinitive is originally construed as Od. 8. 44 τῷ γάρ ῥα θεὸς πέρι δῶκεν ἀοιδὴν τέρπειν : Il. 11. 20 τόν ποτέ οἱ Κινύρης δῶκε ξεινήίον εἶναι; thence it comes to mean ' to give (such a state of things) that some event shat happen, i.e. to gταπnt re 2αρρeαiπρ; as δὸς τίσασθαι grant tθat l πaγ puπniκὰ. Ihn such a passage as Π. 3. 322 τὸν δὸς ἀποφθίμενον δῦναι κτλ. we may take τόν with δός or as an Ace. with the mf. δῦναι.

    A Neuter Pronoun, too, may serve as a vague Obect, ex- plained by an nfinitive; e.ς. ll. 5. 665-6 τὸ μὲν οὔ τις ἐπεφρά- σατʼ Il. Il. ἐξερύσαι: cp. Od. 21. 278 καὶ τοῦτο ἔπος κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπε, νῦν μὲν παῦσαι τόξον κτλ.

  5. The infinitive may also be equivalent in sense to the Genitive depending on a Noun.
    Il. 7. 409 οὐ γάρ τις φειδὼ νεκύων κατατεθνηότων
                  γίγνετʼ ἐπεί κε θάνωσι πυρὸς μειλισσέμεν ἄὥκα

    i.e. there is no grudging about the appeasing of the dead. Hence is developed an idiomatic use of the Genitive parallel to that of the dccuatiνς de ᾳμο see Shilleto on Thuc. Il. 61.1.